[News] Open Letter to SF State University President Wong: Uphold the MOU with An-Najah University and Support Professor Abdulhadi!

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 5 20:47:52 EDT 2016


*Open Letter to San Francisco State University President Leslie Wong:*

*Uphold the MOU with An-Najah University and Support Professor Abdulhadi!
*

*Join us in signing on to the letter and email SFSU President Wong
Sign Here: *
http://bit.ly/2dtPmzP
**

**

Members of the Delegation with faculty and students from An-Najah 
University.

In March 2016, nineteen of us were part of a multi-racial, 
multi-generational Prisoner, Labor and Academic Solidarity delegation to 
Palestine convened by Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, a professor at San Francisco 
State University. A highlight of our trip was a conference we 
participated in at An-Najah <https://www.najah.edu/en> University in 
Nablus in the Palestinian West Bank. Faculty and students from An-Najah 
and members of our delegation shared presentations about the 
marginalized histories of colonial repression, racism and resistance in 
Palestine and the U.S.A dynamic discussion ensued, laying the basis for 
future academic cooperation and public engagement.For us it was an 
exciting model of what international academic exchange between activist 
scholars should be.

The conference at An-Najah was facilitated by a Memorandum of 
Understanding (MOU) which was established between San Francisco State 
University and An-Najah in 2014.The agreement was initiated by Dr. 
Abdulhadi, who grew up in Nablus, and it grew out of her close ties to 
both academic institutions.The purpose of the agreement was to encourage 
exchange and partnership between the universities and with the Arab and 
Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (/AMED/) Studies program, an important 
part of the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU.

We were very disturbed to learn at the beginning of September that an 
online petition had been launched by the Middle East Forum, a 
neo-conservative, pro-Israel group led by Daniel Pipes and David 
Horowitz, named as leading Islamophobes by the Southern Law Poverty 
Center, calling on San Francisco State University President, Leslie 
Wong, to terminate the MOU with An-Najah. The petition accuses An-Najah 
of “incitement to violence, anti-Semitism and the glorification of 
terrorism.” It cites the opinions of other discredited Zionist 
organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as sources for 
these inflammatory allegations. The vilification of An-Najah, which is 
consistently ranked as a leading academic institution in the Arab world, 
is accompanied by an attack on Dr. Abdulhadi who is condemned for 
initiating the MOU and for her “record as an anti-Israel activist.” Some 
of the examples given include her role as a founding member of the US 
Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and her service 
as faculty advisor for SFSU’s General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS).

Unfortunately, the petition is not an isolated diatribe but part and 
parcel of an escalating backlash by pro-Israeli, Zionist organizations 
to undermine support for Palestine which has been gaining momentum on 
college campuses across the United States over the past ten years, 
catalyzed by the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) 
campaign. The 2015 report, “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech” by 
the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal explains how 
pro-Israel groups “leverage their significant resources and lobbying 
power to pressure universities, government actors, and other 
institutions to censor or punish advocacy in support of Palestinian rights.”

Multiple forms of pressure have been employed including the creation of 
an online hit list by the Canary Mission, a Zionist campus watch group 
explicitly founded to harass and target students and faculty active in 
the BDS movement. Dr. Abdulhadi as well as various SFSU GUPS student 
members are listed on this website in an attempt to derail their 
academic careers and invite attacks against them.Another significant 
pressure point is the spread of McCarthyite anti-BDS legislation which 
criminalizes businesses, organizations and individuals who participate 
in boycotts of Israel.Eleven states have passed such laws and dozens 
more, including California, are considering them. In June 2016, New York 
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order against boycott and 
divestment.

At the same time, a recent wave of Israeli raids and arrests in 
Palestine at the end of July have targeted An-Najah students and 
students in other Palestinian universities. Since it is illegal for 
Palestinian students to organize protests on campuses, and campus 
political organizations are banned, there is a constant pretext for the 
Israeli military occupation to arrest students arbitrarily. The 
suppression and increasing criminalization of free speech about 
Palestine on U.S. campuses represent a move in the same direction.

Recently the AMCHA Initiative, another Zionist campus-focused group, 
launched a campaign to cancel a course, “Palestine: A Settler Colonial 
Analysis,” at UC Berkeley. The effort was defeated due to widespread 
University and public pressure. A number of our Palestine Delegation 
members live in the San Francisco Bay Area and we expect SFSU to also 
uphold its commitment to academic freedom and social justice, values 
that are prioritized by our communities.

We are encouraged by a statement that SFSU’s associate vice president of 
strategic communications, J. Elizabeth Smith, made to CBS San Francisco 
<http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/09/09/san-francisco-state-university-partnership-with-palestinian-university-comes-under-fire/> 
defending the right of SF State faculty to partner with An-Najah. “The 
university supports the academic freedom of its faculty. Partnerships 
are initiated by faculty members based on their own academic interests, 
either for their own particular scholarly pursuits or to advance 
learning opportunities for their students.”We encourage President Wong 
to publicly reaffirm this commitment as well.

*In the face of the bigoted attacks on the MOU between San Francisco 
State University and An-Najah University in the Palestine West Bank and 
on Professor Abdulhadi, a leading Palestinian scholar, we the 
undersigned Delegation members and other concerned academics, students 
and community members, call upon President Wong of SFSU to:*

·*Uphold the importance and validity of SFSU’s historic agreement with 
An-Najah University. *

·*Reject the defamation of Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and support her leading 
intellectual and activist roles in the international justice for 
Palestine movements.*

·*Support publicly and institutionally the Arab and MuslimEthnicities 
and Diasporas Studies Program (AMED) at SFSU.*

·*Oppose the cyber-harassment and McCarthyite hit list tactics of the 
Canary Mission against students and faculty at SFSU and at other 
campuses across the U.S.*

*Signed by the members of the 2016 Prisoner, Labor and Academic 
Solidarity Delegation to Palestine:*

  *All institutional and organizational affiliations are for 
identification purposes only

  * *Diana Block*, author and activist, California Coalition for Women
    Prisoners*,San Francisco, California
  * *Susan Chen*, Counselor Faculty, San Francisco State University*,
    California
  * *Dennis Childs*, author and professor, University of California*,
    San Diego
  * *Susie Day*, writer, Monthly Review Press*, New York City, New York
  * *Emory Douglas*, Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture, Black
    Panther Party, 1967-1982
  * *Johanna Fernández*, author and professor, City University of New
    York-Baruch College*; Organizer, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
  * *Diane Fujino*, author and professor, University of California*,
    Santa Barbara
  * *Alborz Ghandehari*, member of BDS Caucus of UAW 2865, University of
    California Student-Workers Union*
  * *Anna Henry*, activist and member, California Coalition for Women
    Prisoners*, San Francisco
  * *Rachel Herzing*, independent scholar, Oakland, California
  * *Hank Jones*, activist, former US-Held political prisoner and
    member, Black Panther Party, Los Angeles, California
  * *manuel la fontaine*, former US-held prisoner and member, All of Us
    or None*, San Francisco, California
  * *Claude Marks*, Former US-held political prisoner, Freedom
    Archives*, San Francisco, California
  * *Nathaniel Moore*, archivist, Freedom Archives*, San Francisco,
    California
  * *Isaac Ontiveros*, Oakland, California
  * *Michael Ritter*, counselor faculty, San Francisco State
    University*, California
  * *Jaime Veve*, Co-Convener, Labor for Palestine*, New York City, New York
  * *Laura Whitehorn*, Former US-held political prisoner, New York City,
    New York

*Co-Signed by the following concerned academic, student and community 
members:*

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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